Exciting Ballet News

News about Leonard Cohen and his work, press, radio & TV programs etc.
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dick
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Exciting Ballet News

Postby dick » Sun May 06, 2012 5:51 pm

Winnipeg Free Press

http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/opinio ... 74705.html

Setting dance to Cohen like poetry in motion

By: Alison Mayes

The Doorway: Scenes From Leonard Cohen.

Last year, Winnipeg's Jorden Morris was asked to choreograph a pas de deux to Leonard Cohen's soulful Dance Me to the End of Love for the nationally televised Genie Awards. It was so well received that the Royal Winnipeg Ballet commissioned Morris to create a longer work to songs by the legendary Cohen.

The 44-year-old dancemaker, who teaches at the RWB School and created the company's hits Peter Pan and Moulin Rouge -- The Ballet, was already a fan of the 77-year-old Montreal-born poet and singer-songwriter. Years ago, he attended one of Cohen's spiritual concerts in Montreal.

Still, he embarked on an intensive research quest, downloading huge quantities of Cohen's influential music, reading biographies and getting his hands on 14 hours' worth of audio interviews with the deep-voiced singer, spanning some 40 years. He hopes to meet Cohen one day.

"He's such an amazing individual -- his ideas, his beliefs, the way he can so eloquently express anything, and put a shape and texture and colour onto it," Morris says. "If he's just talking about his hat, it sounds fabulous."

The full-scale Cohen project will ultimately be about an hour long and will likely debut in the 2013-14 season, Morris says. But a 20-minute version for seven dancers, The Doorway: Scenes from Leonard Cohen, has its world première Wednesday as part of RWB's season-ending Pure Ballet program.

The production, on until Mother's Day, also features Peter Quanz's Luminous and Mauricio Wainrot's Carmina Burana, both to recorded music.

The troupe actually has a history with Cohen. Back in the hippie era, it premiered Brian Macdonald's ballet The Shining People of Leonard Cohen. Still, don't hunt for the poet in the audience next week. He was invited, but is too busy to attend.

The Doorway consists of five relationship-themed vignettes set to four songs and a recording of Cohen reciting the poem Since You've Asked. Each vignette is preceded by a relevant audio clip of Cohen.

"What I'm trying to do is tie him to the music, and then make a picture," Morris says.

Two of the best-known songs will be performed live. The placement of the musicians is still being worked out, but Morris hopes they'll be in close proximity to the dancers.

British Columbia-born singer-songwriter Allison Crowe will play the piano and sing Hallelujah, choreographed as a female solo.

Winnipeg duo Keith and Renée will perform Bird on a Wire. The ballet also includes Sisters of Mercy as recorded by singer-songwriter Cris Williamson and The Letters sung by Cohen and Jennifer Warnes.

Morris doesn't have much experience choreographing to lyrics, but is very aware of the pitfall of matching movement too exactly to the words. It's a trap some audience members felt choreographer James Kudelka fell into with the Johnny Cash-scored ballet The Man in Black, performed here last fall by the National Ballet of Canada. "I got a lot of comments (after the Cash ballet) saying, 'God, please don't be that literal with Leonard Cohen,'" Morris says. "It almost gets pedantic for the audience. ... You want to use Cohen's words as the canvas. The movement is the paint."

The title The Doorway, he says, reflects Cohen's almost priestly passage through the portal to the stage.

"He talks a lot about the doorway he goes through before he performs. It's something very sacred and special to him."

It might seem surprising that Dance Me to the End of Love doesn't appear in The Doorway, but it's because Morris envisions it as a number for many dancers in the hour-long version, to be titled The Chamber.

"I want it to be a huge group section for, like, six couples," he says. "I'm kind of saving that -- and things like Famous Blue Raincoat and Tower of Song."

Pure Ballet
• Royal Winnipeg Ballet
• Centennial Concert Hall
• May 9-12 at 7:30 p.m.; May 13 at 2 p.m.
• Tickets $33 to $97.50 at Ticketmaster or 956-2792
Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition May 5, 2012 G5
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lizzytysh
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Re: Exciting Ballet News

Postby lizzytysh » Mon May 07, 2012 1:34 am

Yes, indeed it IS exciting!!!
So much wish I could see it ~ one of the banes of living in the South... most everything happens in the North, East, or West!
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sbreen
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Re: Exciting Ballet News

Postby sbreen » Mon May 07, 2012 8:43 am

:o(

Try living all the way down in NZ!
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Re: Exciting Ballet News

Postby lizzytysh » Mon May 07, 2012 5:04 pm

Tha, too, sbeen :? . sometimes, I feel like I might as well be, but i know better... and this ballet looks like it would be SO inspiring! Even though he was already a fan, I love the dedication he put into Leonard's background before going forward. Excellence.
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Adrian
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Re: Exciting Ballet News

Postby Adrian » Mon May 07, 2012 9:40 pm

Here's hoping it will eventually travel far and wide. I'm just learning about Canada's Royal Winnipeg Ballet, and, as North America's longest continuously operating ballet, they are a very active touring company. And as far as I can tell, they tour all over the USA, so, Lizzy, you may find living in the South has this benefit, too, in time :) sbreen, it is a stretch around the world, but, you never know!

What is known right now is the ballet premieres this week at the RWB's home concert hall in Winnipeg, Manitoba. In late May it tours northern Manitoba, and, in November 2012, "The Doorway - Scenes from Leonard Cohen" will be performed in Canada's Maritime provinces.

One step at-a-time - may it greet the world :)
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Re: Exciting Ballet News

Postby lizzytysh » Mon May 07, 2012 9:53 pm

I sure hope so, Adrian... but maybe I'll just move north, instead, and take care of that problem ;-) . I miss out on a lot... just too cost prohibitive to keep flying here, there, and everywhere.

I saw this notice elsewhere before Dick posted it here... and commented on it, and reposted it! Oh, I know... on Facebook. Somehow, I figured it HAD to already be here! Thank goodness Dick noticed that it wasn't!


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Re: Exciting Ballet News

Postby Adrian » Mon May 07, 2012 10:02 pm

Minutes after I posted, this news came across the Google wire, or whatever one calls it :) Sounds like the odds are already improved!! The RWB looks set to tour farther and wider:

Paquin Entertainment Exclusively Representing Canada's Royal Winnipeg Ballet

WINNIPEG, MANITOBA, May 07, 2012 (MARKETWIRE via COMTEX) -- Paquin Entertainment Group (PEG) is proud to announce exclusive worldwide representation of Canada's Royal Winnipeg Ballet (RWB), one of the most prestigious dance companies in North America.

As part of the Royal Winnipeg Ballet's recent strategy to create new and innovative touring opportunities, the RWB is taking a new approach to secure national and international engagements. Touring nationally and internationally on an annual basis is fundamental to the RWB's mission and mandate as a Canadian cultural institution. In the seven decades since its founding, touring has always been a fundamental part of RWB's basic operations. In terms of touring, the RWB is unique in Canada, spending 15 or more weeks a year on the road and performing in venues large and small in nearly 600 cities worldwide. In 2010, the Company embarked on a two-week tour of Israel performing in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and Haifa, as part of RWB's 70th Anniversary celebrations.

Paquin Entertainment Group CEO Gilles Paquin is an avid patron of the arts, but his love for dance was developed in a more personal way. His partner, Patti Caplette, was a soloist and Ballet Mistress who toured with the RWB for 15 years, thus giving Gilles rare insight into the particulars of the RWB's national and international touring. Gilles is delighted to bring his many years of experience and knowledge of the entertainment industry to work with such a renowned dance company. A partnership between the RWB and PEG is a natural fit considering the deep roots that they share.

This new alliance will support and amplify the RWB's tours by delivering the Company's critically-acclaimed artistic achievements including Moulin Rougea - The Ballet, Carmina Burana, Nutcracker, iconic repertoire pieces and the soon-to-premiere Twyla Tharp's The Princess & The Goblin to both loyal and new audiences around the world.

About Paquin Entertainment Group

Paquin Entertainment Group is Canada's premier entertainment and performing arts agency, representing international talents varying from contemporary to family entertainment. With offices in Winnipeg and Toronto, we pride ourselves on our ability to provide artists and clients a distinguished level of personal and professional services.

For more information, please visit our website at www.paquinentertainment.com

Contact info and more @ http://www.marketwatch.com/story/paquin ... 2012-05-07
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Re: Exciting Ballet News

Postby Adrian » Wed May 09, 2012 9:25 pm

As you'd imagine with the words and music of Leonard Cohen, there's great range and variety in the program - so, consider this as being treated to a flake... :)

CBC Arts Correspondent and SCENE Producer Andrea Ratuski attended dress rehearsal, and files this report on the RWB's "Pure Ballet" and the World Premiere of "The Doorway - Scenes from Leonard Cohen": http://www.cbc.ca/manitoba/scene/theatr ... ure-ballet
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Re: Exciting Ballet News

Postby dick » Wed May 09, 2012 10:03 pm

Thanks for the link Adrian. Good stuff.
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Re: Exciting Ballet News

Postby bridger15 » Fri May 11, 2012 4:02 am

Review by the Globe and Mail ---Arlene

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/art ... nt=2429051
Dance review
Ballet needs to find the key to Cohen
PAULA CITRON
Globe and Mail Update
Published Thursday, May. 10, 2012 3:31PM EDT
Last updated Thursday, May. 10, 2012 4:26PM EDT

Pure Ballet

The Royal Winnipeg Ballet
At Centennial Concert Hall in Winnipeg on Wednesday

A ballet company is only as strong as its choreography. Granted, talented dancers can transcend a choreographic dud, but poor quality pulls a company down.

The Royal Winnipeg Ballet has lately been floundering in inferior full-length ballets. But the mixed program called Pure Ballet is a badly needed tonic.

A mixed program, showcasing the work of different choreographers, tests the mettle of a company. The good news is that the five works in Pure Ballet show off a company of strong dancers. The bad news is that mixed programs can include less-than-stellar offerings.

Jorden Morris, who was responsible for the less-than-stellar Moulin Rouge – The Ballet in 2009 had a chance to redeem himself here but comes up short. His new work The Doorway is set to the iconic songs of Leonard Cohen. Before each song, we hear a voiceover of Cohen talking about his music. One would expect Morris to address either the content of the song or Cohen’s thoughts about it. Instead we get choreography that is all over the map.

Take Bird on the Wire, a duet performed by Harrison James and Sarah Davey. The song is about freedom, but Morris’s duet could be any generic romantic coupling. Morris does better with Cohen’s recitation of Since You’ve Asked, danced by Yosuke Mino and James. The two men execute tightly controlled movements in a confined space, ending up in a close embrace. It works because it captures the thought of giving oneself completely to another.

With plans to expand the piece to 50 minutes, Morris needs to find the key to Cohen and go beyond generic choreography. He also needs to reconsider the soundtrack. The folk/rock duo Keith and Renée and chanteuse Allison Crowe are very talented, but it makes for a messy presentation – some live music and some recorded music. There is just one song with Cohen singing in a duet. In other words, the focus of the piece is scattered.

The rest of Pure Ballet, happily, is pure gold.

Peter Quanz set Luminous on the Hong Kong Ballet in 2010. For the RWB premiere of the work, Anne Armit has costumed the eight dancers in form-fitting, iridescent body suits that reflect the light in wondrous ways. The choreography is full of surprises. At first it seems the piece is pure ballet, swept up in Canadian composer Marjan Mozetich’s neo-romantic Affairs of the Heart.

Ostensibly, the dancers are interpreting the music in abstract terms with big, bold movement that covers the stage. And then one begins to see that relationships are forming and coming apart. Some are loved and some are rejected, all within the bigger picture of the group dynamic. It is a cleverly layered work.

The big piece on the program is Argentine choreographer Mauricio Wainrot’s Carmina Burana (1998) which has been in the RWB repertoire since 2002. The full company nails Wainrot’s challenging and complex riffs on village dances.

Finally, there are two short duets that are farewell gifts to ballerinas Carrie Broda and Emily Grizzell. Broda performs Oscar Araiz’s beautiful and tender Adagietto (1971) with Alexander Gamayunov, while Grizzell is partnered by Yosuke Mino in Mino’s own world premiere of the quirky and fun-filled Rivalry/Revelry.

The ballerinas will be missed, but they’ve been given a grand sendoff.

Pure Ballet continues in Winnipeg until May 13.
2009-San Diego|Los Ang|Nashville|St Louis|Kansas City|LVegas|San Jose
2010-Gothenburg|Berlin|Ghentx2|Oaklandx2|Portland|LVegasx2
2012-Austinx2|Denver|Los Ang|Seattle|Portland

Arlene's Leonard Cohen Scrapbook http://onboogiestreet.blogspot.com
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Re: Exciting Ballet News

Postby Adrian » Fri May 11, 2012 7:47 am

's a pleasure, Dick!

Travelling half-cross this rather large country, I've just made it home from the opening/premiere of "The Doorway - Scenes from Leonard Cohen" - it's a marvelous and moving work. The dance audience loved it, and, I expect Cohen-lovers new and old are delighting in the "visible music" of the Royal Winnipeg Ballet.

I am hopeful we may get to see video of the program - though live is how to experience it, truly. This brings back the desire for touring :)

Something I did not know when posting earlier, but, since learned - "Hallelujah" is danced by Sophia Lee in the performances on Wednesday, Friday and Sunday. Jo-Ann Gudilin (nee Sundermeier) dances the role on Thursday (tonight) and Saturday.

There's so much that could be said, but, at this moment, the joy created by the art is expression enough :)
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Re: Exciting Ballet News

Postby Adrian » Fri May 11, 2012 7:09 pm

Review from The Winnipeg Free Press - Friday, May 11, 2012: http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/arts-a ... 88425.html

RWB season-ender has a light touch

By: Holly Harris

After a year-long, rich bounty of story ballets, the Royal Winnipeg Ballet returned to what it has always done best: offering an eclectic program of mixed repertoire with something for every ballet devotee. The season-closer Pure Ballet, featuring five contemporary works -- including three RWB premières -- opened Wednesday for a five-show run that ends this weekend.

The company première of Peter Quanz's Luminous, originally commissioned by the Hong Kong Ballet in 2010, has been well worth the wait. Inspired by a quote by author Michael Ondaatje, the gorgeous, moonlight-soaked ballet exploring romantic relationships at different stages of life unfolds as a cyclical series of pas de deux, set to a recording of Canadian composer Marjan Mozetich's sweeping Affairs of the Heart.

Image

Bruce Monk photo Dancers perform the Sisters of Mercy vignette in RWB's world premiere of The Door: Scenes From Leonard Cohen.

The mature, well-crafted work is filled with potent imagery: perhaps, greatest is seeing the eight dancers: Amanda Green, Jo-Ann Sundermeier, Emily Grizzell, Sophia Lee, Eric Nipp, Yosuke Mino, Tristan Dobrowney and Harrison James (with alternating casts) teetering as though on a precipitous edge that captures the vulnerability of falling in love. This metaphor runs likes a leitmotif throughout the 23-minute piece, culminating in Green's perilously falling to the floor caught only at the last split second by Dobrowney. Metallic, skin-tight unitards by costume designer Anne Armit add further luster, reflecting designer Robert Mravnik's streaming shafts of light. Luminous is quickly becoming a signature piece for the 32-year old choreographer, earning him the first of several standing ovations for the night.

The eagerly anticipated world première of The Doorway: Scenes from Leonard Cohen, choreographed by Jorden Morris, is inspired by the complex mind and soulful heart of Canada's beloved bard. Structured as five vignettes, each section (other than a wholly spoken text in one) begins with a recorded voiceover excerpted from actual Cohen interviews, as he speaks about love and poetry, God and his own imagined, "curious, magical universe." The five parts, lit by Hugh Conacher with costumes by Armit, reveal their own unique stories underscored by a cover from Cohen's emblematic tower of song.

The atmospheric, 20-minute piece holds promise, despite feeling somewhat like a work-in-progress. It will, in fact, evolve into a longer future production. Some sections resonate more than others, such as the spine-tingling Hallelujah performed by rising star dancer Lee with belted-out live vocals by British Colmbia-born singer/pianist Allison Crowe, and Mino and James' rugged duet set to Cohen's own recitation of Since You Asked.

Still, others felt disconnected; however, this might arguably come with the territory when dealing with the songwriter's postmodern ethos of broken love and solitude. Bird on the Wire, despite the warm vocals of Winnipeg's Keith and Renée, would have become more strongly cohesive had its two dancers, Sarah Davey and James, interacted with the onstage four-piece band. Or if Mino and Sundermeier could have established a stronger connection during opening vignette The Letters.

Artistic licence, of course, is always the purview of the creator. But not hearing Cohen's gravelly, iconic voice -- save for the latter piece sung with Jennifer Warnes, and of course, the interviews -- just felt strangely wrong.

At the end of (almost) every season, the company bids adieu to retiring dancers. This year, longtime dancers Carrie Broda and Grizzell are taking their final bows.

The statuesque Broda's deeply felt performance of Oscar Araiz' pas de deux Adagietto, performed with real-life partner Alexander Gamayunov, became as much a personal love letter to her husband as to her cherished ballet world. By contrast, Mino's witty duet Rivalry/Revelry, choreographed for Grizzell, featured the pair in a dynamic whirl of leaps and pirouettes that captured the spirit and charm of this charismatic dancer. Both artists will be sorely missed.

The nearly two-and-a-half-hour program (including intermission) was rounded out with Argentine choreographer Mauricio Wainrot's Carmina Burana, which never seems to lose its power. Performed to a recording of Carl Orff's iconic score, the crowd-pleasing, high-energy ensemble work, last seen here in 2008, ended the 72-year-old company's season with a ritualistic bang.

holly.harris@shaw.ca
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Re: Exciting Ballet News

Postby dick » Fri May 11, 2012 10:36 pm

Thanks again Adrian. Especially like reading of your personal reactions.

Any rumors of a video?
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Re: Exciting Ballet News

Postby Adrian » Sat May 12, 2012 12:18 am

I shall do my best to find out about any video or other artifacts!

I'm still buoyed by the whole experience - despite jet-lag and other travel aches. The audience, myself included, loved it. Rapturous applause, standing ovations, and much hooting and other sounds :) It communicates. (As for critics - if you want to look at things a certain way, there's too many colours in a rainbow.)

Quite knackered, on the night of the premiere, I emailed the following to Judy Werle, manager to musician Cris Williamson, both of whom had hoped to attend, but, matters kept them in Seattle:

The entire "Pure Ballet" dance program tonight was brilliant - exciting and
beautiful and fun. And varied. "The Doorway" can be described with these
same words - and add in amazingly evocative of the music and themes of
Leonard Cohen - expressed in physical form.

Cris' "Sisters of Mercy" is just so right, and capped the dance piece
sublimely. Five dancers, all women, performed the song. They're dressed in
long white pants, and white, long-sleeved tops. Each is barefoot. I'd call
the lighting tone amber - both as a colour, and as an essence. The slight
reverb on Cris' voice was ideal match for this sense of longing and
remembrance.

I don't know the language of dance to describe the movements of those
performing - without greatly diminishing their beauty.

***
And, here's a page scanned from the night's program:

Image
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dick
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Re: Exciting Ballet News

Postby dick » Sat May 12, 2012 1:51 am

Great response Adrian.

I look forward to sharing it with a long time fan....... Leonard's sister Esther. We will be with her tomorrow for dinner and a cabaret show in Manhattan.... songs of Joni Mitchell and Leonard Cohen.

It has been sold out for quite a while, so I have not encouraged others to take it in. Singer is Lauren Fox, venue is Metropolitan Room.

Thanks once more for your enthusiastic support.

I also totally enjoyed the sessions I saw of Philip Glass "Book of Longing." Somehow think Leonard's art exhibitions, and things like Glass and ballet help bring him to a wider and wider audience. And I think he much deserves it!

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